PTC pilot in Iraq

Thu, 02/08/2007 - 3:41pm
By: The Citizen

McIntosh High School graduate George “Frag” Collings is flying bombing missions out of Balad Air Base Iraq.

Collings, a 1st Lieutenant in the Air Force, is in the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, which provides close air support. In a recent mission, he helped with the Battle of An Najaf where more than 200 enemy insurgents were killed and 100 gunmen captured south of Baghdad Jan. 28.

The 332nd AEW’s F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs answered ground forces’ call for close air support after insurgents attacked them with small arms fire, including rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades. They dropped more than 3.5 tons of precision munitions, 1,200 rounds of 20mm and 1,100 rounds of 30mm cannon fire in an area of about five square miles.

Lieutenant Collings and Maj. August Marquardt were on alert when their F-16s were called to scramble.

Within minutes of reaching the battlespace, Lt. Collings dropped a 500-pound bomb on a position near a canal where the enemy had pinned down friendly forces on their way to a downed helicopter, said Maj. Marquardt. The two pilots, who had been in-country three weeks, were on their eighth Operation Iraqi Freedom combat mission. “It’s not every day the Army wants bombs dropped immediately – that’s how serious they wanted to get to that helicopter. It was extremely rewarding to help,” said Major Marquardt, who dropped two 500-pound bombs himself during the course of their three-hour mission.

Collings is the son of Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Collings, serves as the Chief, Office of Military Cooperation in Cairo, Egypt—the liaison between the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and U.S. Central Command, coordinating the planning of joint military exercises throughout the region.

The 36-hour action was the first time all the wing’s fighter aircraft have simultaneously employed ordnance in a single operation. Two of the squadrons, the 14th and 74th EFS, joined the wing’s ranks just last month.

Helping the pilots get off the ground are crew chiefs—the professional aircraft maintainers responsible for inspecting the systems, engines, and motor before and after each flight.

Pilots and ground forces count on these Airmen to ensure the munitions launch. “It feels good knowing we’re able to support the people who are directly involved. Our team didn’t know until later that day what was happening in [An] Najaf until we saw it on cable news,” said Staff Sgt. Jared Bicker, weapons load crew chief.

Throughout the operation, the 332nd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron sustained normal and surge operations simultaneously, and at one point, had jets quick-turned two hours ahead of schedule. With more than 3.5 tons of precision munitions dropped, the jets were fully loaded for each launch.

The majority of Air Force combat airpower in Iraq launches from the busy runways of the 332nd AEW at Balad Air Base, 40 miles north of Baghdad.

“I’m pretty darn proud of the operations, maintenance and combat support efforts of our Tuskegee Airmen team!” said Brig. Gen. Robin Rand, 332nd AEW commander.

For more information and F-16/A-10 mission video, visit

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cowtipn's picture
Submitted by cowtipn on Mon, 02/12/2007 - 12:37pm.

You have my deepest respect and heart-felt thanks!!! Way to pwn that wild blue yonder!

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Fri, 02/09/2007 - 12:37pm.

There is a reason you guys are called best of the best! If anyone in direct contact with Frag reads these boards, please tell him we appreciate his sacrifices and service, and we will all line up to buy him a beer (or soda) upon his safe return home!

God Bless You,

Kevin "Hack" King

Tug13's picture
Submitted by Tug13 on Fri, 02/09/2007 - 4:21pm.

We appreciate your sacrifices and service too.

(Here in the south we say "Coke" not soda.) Smiling

God Bless

Git Real's picture
Submitted by Git Real on Fri, 02/09/2007 - 3:10pm.

Please tell me you're by far the superior pilot here. I sure don't wanna have to lessen the top hero status I've come to think of you as. Hot air and all...LOL. Defend your status "Hack".

And on the more serious side. Thank you George Collings. "Frag" if I may. Thanks for the job you do and get back safe so we can indeed find out who the better warrior pilot is. But for some reason I doubt neither will ever concede. Eye-wink

Keep an eye on and protect our guys on the ground.


You don't need to defend a Lion. You just need to let him out of his cage.

C.S. Lewis

Tug13's picture
Submitted by Tug13 on Fri, 02/09/2007 - 9:37am.

Be safe, my prayers are with you and your family. Thank you!

(One of my children graduated from McIntosh!) Smiling

Submitted by eyeonfayette on Fri, 02/09/2007 - 9:36am.

Mr. Collings I wanted to thank you for your unselfish dedication to your country. I am one of millions of citizens that are proud of you. I would like to thank you for protecting me and my country. Be Safe and God's Speed.

Submitted by Eric Hanly on Fri, 02/09/2007 - 7:49am.

You make us proud!

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